Do you have a clear picture in your mind of what you want to achieve in your professional life? Have you visualized exactly what success looks like for you? And do you review that mental picture each and every day?
Jim Thorpe is known as one of the greatest athletes of all time. He was an All-American, Olympic gold medalist in the decathlon and pentathlon, star NFL running back and a major league baseball player.
Thorpe and his fellow American Olympians traveled to the 1912 Olympics in Stockholm aboard the ocean liner Finland. One day on the ship, while all the athletes trained on a cork track laid on the ship's deck, Thorpe sat nearby in silence.
A sportswriter named Francis Albertani saw him sitting there and asked "What are you doing, Jim?" Thorpe answered, "I'm practicing the broad jump. I've just jumped 23 feet, 8 inches. I think that I can win it."
Thorpe did go on to win the broad jump in the Olympic decathlon with his jump of 22 feet, 7 inches. He also won three more of the 10 decathlon events en route to the gold medal, and four of five Pentathlon events to earn a second gold.
Thorpe knew that if he wanted to be an Olympic champion, it wasn't enough to be in peak physical condition. He needed to be in peak mental condition, too. So he used the power of visualization to help train his mind for success.
Visualizing success works because it re-programs your brain to create new solutions for achieving your goals. It helps you see ideas that you may have been ignoring and it relaxes and calms your body so that it can accept and go after new ideas.
Businesses train employees to use visualization to improve performance and production. Coaches use it because research shows that mental rehearsal increases athletic performance. Dieters are taught to image a thin and beautiful body. Medical professionals use it to assist patients in their healing process.
Visualization is the act of envisioning -- seeing clearly in your mind's eye -- an outcome you want to achieve and exactly how you want to achieve it. Here are some strategies to help you utilize visualization in your professional life:
* Choose a goal that you would like to obtain. Maybe it's increasing your income or growing your business. Be realistic about the experience and keep it true to how you expect it to be.
* Believe that your goals are within your grasp. It is not enough to just visualize your success. There is no room for creeping doubts here. After all, if you do not believe in yourself, who else will?
* Imagine yourself succeeding at that goal. Close your eyes and see it as already complete. Make the pictures in your mind as clear as possible with vivid details. See yourself doing everything right. Imagine yourself through others' eyes, seeing you succeed.
* Feel what it feels like to be successful at that goal. Are you relaxed, happy, proud? Also, see if you can imagine a sense of peace that you might feel at having achieved your goal. How will your life change as a result of your success?
* Couple visualization with spaced repetition. When you visualize an outcome over and over again, you build "cells of recognition" in your memory bank. Actively play and replay this mental image at every possible opportunity.
* Incorporate the 'fake it till you make it' method. This is simply a matter of pretending you are already proficient at something before you really are. It's simply a way of tricking your unconscious and getting it to do what you want it to do a little faster.
* Utilize visualization helpers. Some people find it helpful to create vision statements, vision boards or goal books where they paste or draw pictures that symbolize what they're trying to achieve. Having your vision in a tangible form can be very motivating.
Take control of the images in your mind and use these strategies to visualize your personal version of success.
Keep in mind that you must believe in yourself and your own limitless possibilities. Master visualization, work hard, stay focused and nothing can stand in your way.
Brad Larsen is a life coach and corporate consultant from Northern Utah. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.